India’s oldest living city found in PM Modi’s native village Vadnagar: multi-institution study

India’s oldest living city found in PM Modi’s native village Vadnagar: multi-institution study

GS Paper - 1

Why in the news?

  • IIT Kharagpur conducted a study in Vadnagar, the Prime Minister's hometown.  
  • They found proof that people there kept their culture even after the Harappan collapse. 
    • This suggests that the "Dark Age" idea might not be true.

Key findings of the study

  • Ancient Settlement Discovery:
      • The study found an old human settlement dating back to 800 BCE, possibly existing at the same time as late-Vedic/pre-Buddhist Mahajanapadas or oligarchic republics.
  • Impact of Climate Change:
      • Changes in climate, like rainfall and droughts, played a significant role in the rise and fall of kingdoms over 3,000 years. 
      • Central Asian warriors' recurrent invasions were also influenced by these climate shifts.
  • Cultural Diversity in Vadnagar:
      • Vadnagar was a multicultural and multireligious settlement.
      • It was influenced by Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Islamic cultures.
      • The discovery of one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries highlighted the diverse cultural influences.
  • Archaeological Artifacts:

  • Various artifacts were unearthed, including typical archaeological items, pottery, and objects made of copper, gold, silver, and iron.
  • Additionally, intricately designed bangles and coin molds associated with the Greek king Appollodatus were found.
  • Ruling Groups Over Time:
    • Radiocarbon dating identified seven cultural stages and their respective rulers over time:
    • Mauryan period
    • Indo-Greek era
    • Indo-Scythian or Shaka-Kshatrapas (known as ‘Satraps’)
    • Hindu-Solankis
    • Sultanate-Mughal (Islamic rule)
    • Gaekwad-British colonial period up to the present.

Study conductors and funding

Study Conductors:

  • The digging and research were done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) with help from a group of scientists.
  • The team included researchers from 
    • IIT Kharagpur, 
    • Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) 
    • Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) 
    • Deccan College.

Funding Information:

  • The funding for the study came from the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, which is part of the Government of Gujarat.
  • The same Directorate is in charge of creating India's first interactive digital museum in Vadnagar.
  • Sudha Murthy, the former leader of Infosys Foundation, also helped with the funding.

Significance of the study

  • Filling Historical Gaps:
      • There is very little knowledge about the time between 1,500 BC and 500 BC.
      • The Vadnagar discovery can help us understand this time better, showing a culture that lasted for over 5,500 years.
  • Challenging the Dark Age Idea:
      • Some archaeologists talk about a "Dark Age" between the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization 4,000 years ago and the rise of Iron Age cities like Gandhar and Koshal around 6th-5th century BCE.
      • The study suggests that this "Dark Age" might not be true, as there seems to be a continuous culture.
  • Oldest Living City Discovery:
    • Evidence indicates that Vadnagar is the oldest city found within one fortification in India.
    • Some think Vadnagar could be as old as 1400 BC, which is late in the post-urban Harappan period.
    • There's no sign of an advanced city-like place before 500 BC.
  • Rarity of Archaeological Records:
    • There are not many old records, with the earliest one being Emperor Ashoka's rock inscription at Sudarsana Lake, Girnar Hill, Gujarat.


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